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Interview with Senator Amy Klobuchar

Interview with Senator Amy Klobuchar

By John King, USA - January 24, 2011

KING: I'm joined now by Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash.

All right, Senator, it's no secret to you, the senior congressional correspondent happens to be my date. We won't be in the House chamber --

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: That will be very romantic.

KING: --for the State of the Union, we won't be there. But she did talk to your date today, Republican conservative Jeff Sessions of Alabama. Listen to how he describes prom night with Amy Klobuchar.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JEFF SESSION, (R) ALABAMA: I asked her to sit with me at the State of the Union, and I think we'll have a good time doing that. She's a delight to have in the Senate. We serve on the Armed -- Judiciary Committee together, and I admire her. So, I think that will be fun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Corsage? Champagne? How does this work?

KLOBUCHAR: Well, I'm wearing light blue. That's all I'm going to tell him. We'll see what he does. Maybe he'll have a matching tie.

Actually, Senator Sessions and I were talking about some Judiciary matters, actually serious work, and that topic came up. And I was more than pleased to accompany him down the aisle and sit with him.

I think if this is just a symbol, it will mean nothing. But I think if going forward when we have such incredible challenges for our country, John and Dana, that we have got to go beyond this. And we've got to work together more on bills. You know we've got the issue of the deficit. We've got the economy and the innovation competitive strategy, that I think we need to work together and for the country. We cannot do it. We can't do it on the sheer numbers. You have a Republican House, close numbers in the Senate, a Democratic president. If we're going to move forward at all as a country, we're going to have to do it by standing together.

DANA BASH, CNN SR. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Senator, I'm sure you never thought you would say you're walking down the aisle with Jeff Sessions from Alabama. But you know what, things are changing.

KLOBUCHAR: Well, actually, more significantly, the reason we work together on a bill on adoption that was pretty important for a lot of families across this country. And it does happen all the time.

BASH: That actually leads to my next question, because in all seriousness, I asked Senator Sessions today about whether or not he believes that this is just symbolism, or whether him sitting with you, and other Democrats and Republicans sitting together can actually lead to some policy compromises. What do you think? He said yes. What do you think?

KLOBUCHAR: Oh, I think it is a must. And if one party or the other just spends the next two years throwing darts and sitting in their own corner of the boxing ring, it is really at their own peril. Tomorrow night the president is going to lay out some very important challenges for the Congress and for the country. And if we just -- if people are going to act like it's a, you know, something you can throw popcorn at, it's not going to work.

We've got to get things done. We've got an economy that is stabilized, but not moving ahead. We've got other countries that are starting to beat us out with education and other things. We've got great potential in our country and the only way we're going to make sure kids are getting the degrees that they need, make sure we're getting through that red tape, is by working together.

KING: And so what are progressives going to say? We know what the Republicans are going to say. But what are progressives going to say when the president says I propose a spending freeze, and I'm told the draft is being circulated today, somewhere in the ballpark of a three or four year a freeze on federal spending. Republicans will say that doesn't go enough, but I suspect liberals are going to say wait a minute, Mr. President, what are you doing freezing spending?

I'm also told he will not say let's cut Social Security and Medicare, but he will say it is time for Republicans and Democrats to sit down together and deal with Social Security and Medicare and those big entitlement programs because without changes there, you can't do serious deficit reduction. Is the left going to howl after this speech?

KLOBUCHAR: First of all, I have personally supported some of the McCaskill/Sessions spending limits and other things. I think you're going to see a number of Democrats that do want to see us grapple with spending.

In terms of what some members of our caucus will say, I think that they want to see jobs in this country. They want to see people employed again. And the only way we're going to get there is if we, at is the same time as we are doing those necessary spending caps, that we also look at tax reform. So what I'm hoping to hear from the president is some significant tax reform, simplification of our system. Some of the ideas that were put out there by the Deficit Commission Report, like maybe limiting the home mortgage deduction, which is really important to middle class people. But limiting to it $500,000 in value on a home. That covers an awful lot of people in this country.

And so there are a number of things we can do to save money short of messing up Social Security, which I think we could make some changes there, but all that money has to go toward keeping Social Security solvent.

KING: You're going to have popcorn tomorrow night. It's like going to the movies. I want you to look at your monitor.

KLOBUCHAR: OK, yeah, I got it.

KING: I know we brought you a monitor up there because, your former governor is in New Hampshire tonight. He has a new book coming out. Tim Pawlenty is a Republican. He is starting to move around and get ready to run for the Republican nomination for president. And he has a new video here. It's like a pretty high glossy movie trailer. Check this out.

KLOBUCHAR: OK.

(BEGIN POLITICAL CAMPAIGN AD) ANNOUNCER: If prosperity were easy, everybody around the world would be prosperous. If freedom were easy, everybody around the world would be free. If security were easy, everybody around the world would be secure. They are not. None of this is going to be easy, but this is the United States of America.

(END POLITICAL CAMPAIGN AD)

KING: That put you down as a Pawlenty voter?

KLOBUCHAR: Tim Pawlenty and I have worked very well together when he was governor. He is now our former governor, and we worked together on National Guard issues, other things. I'm clearly in the president's camp here, but I wish Governor Pawlenty well. And I do think one message that you get from that video is that it's not going to be easy. And I hope that that's what we're going to be hearing tomorrow night as well.

People have to understand that we are in a crossroads in this country. Are we going to move forward to be a country that makes stuff again, that exports to the world, or are we just going to be consuming and building up debt. We are truly at a crossroads. So I'm looking forward to hearing the president's address tomorrow night.

KING: Senator Klobuchar, I appreciate your time tonight and your good humor. We'll check in with you tomorrow.

KLOBUCHAR: OK, very good.

KING: Dana, thanks for coming in as well.

KLOBUCHAR: I'll tell you how the date went.

KING: Thank you very much.

KLOBUCHAR: I'm thinking if I'm wearing light blue, a nice wrist corsage would be good.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: All right.

 

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